Will wearing your contacts to bed make you blind, or is that just a myth spread by overzealous eye doctors? We investigate what’s safe–and what’s not–when it comes to contacts and sleep to help you uncover what happens when you sleep with contacts.
Here’s the good news: you’re not going to go blind if you accidentally fall asleep with your contacts in every once in a while. It is, however, a dangerous habit to fall into, and here’s why.
Dangers of Depriving Your Corneas of Oxygen
While some contacts are safe to wear all night, most contacts are not oxygen-permeable. This means oxygen isn’t getting through to your cornea, which your contact lens covers. It also means that tears are not getting to your cornea like they would be every time you blink when you’re not wearing contacts.
Oxygen and tears both help to nourish your cornea and without them, serious problems can arise. Since we’re helping you uncover what happens when you sleep with contacts, we’re duty-bound to report them to you, though you probably want to avoid looking at the photos.
- Corneal neovascularization, where new blood vessels grow to the cornea to try to get oxygen to it
- Bacterial infection of the cornea, where bacteria protected by your contact lens eats away at your cornea, and your develop eye redness, sensitivity to light, and vision problems
- Corneal ulcer, which is similar to a bacterial infection but can rupture and tear the cornea
- Loss of vision might even occur if the symptoms are severe enough and go untreated
The fact is that even though contacts are common, they’re regulated as a drug by the FDA. This is a big red flag that we have to be ultra-careful with how we use them, especially since they’re in daily contact with one of our most precious body parts: our eyes.
Tips for Avoiding Infections
Now that you know what happens when you sleep with contacts, our biggest suggestion is to simply remove your contacts at night. Even if you’re wearing overnight contacts, removing them at night will probably help you sleep better, a win for you and your eyes!